A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Breastfeeding while sick with cold or flu

Mother holding baby in the kitchen - Breastfeeding while sick

When you or your baby are sick, it’s important to continue to breastfeed.

Protecting your baby’s health and well-being is instinctual for new moms. During cold and flu season, you may be extra cautious with your newborn’s health. It’s recommended to keep your sick family members or friends away from your baby. But what about protecting your child from you?

Is it safe to breastfeed while sick with a common cold or flu?

Marshfield Clinic Health System Lactation Consultant Jessie Richardson, R.N., said if you are sick with a common viral or bacterial illness, continue to breastfeed your child.

Moms are actually passing immunities to their baby through breastfeeding,” she said. “Any immunities developed through the illness are being transferred directly to their baby and help protect the baby from the illness that mom currently has.”

Richardson said breast milk does not transfer an illness to your child; instead, it has antibodies in the milk to keep your baby healthy. The same holds true for when your baby is sick – continue to breastfeed your child to help keep their immune system strong and fight off infections.

Wash your hands and save your kisses

When you are sick, you can continue to breastfeed but take precautions. Hand washing regularly is important when feeding, changing and caring for your baby. Try not to cough, sneeze or have face-to-face contact with your child until you are feeling well.

Keep the routine

When you are not feeling well, you might not want or have the energy to breastfeed or breast pump. Richardson encourages you to continue your routine to signal breast milk production. Drink plenty of fluids and rest when you can. If your baby is sick, continue to encourage them to breastfeed as well.

“For a sick child, it can be very comforting to breastfeed and get close to mom,” Richardson said. “Moms just might have to be creative with positioning to provide comfort for themselves and baby.”

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